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Ethnic Heritage Ensemble is back with a new album, Be Known: Ancient/Future/Music

Celebrating 45 years in music, Chicago-based Ethnic Heritage Ensemble announces new album with afrofuturistic jazz single “Pharoah”.

Led by renowned drummer and percussionist Sir Kahil El’Zabar, the band is acknowledged throughout the world as one of the leading figures of spiritual groove and afrofuturistic jazz. Their compositions rely on a will to “combine concepts of African American music with its earlier roots in traditional African music, to produce new motifs and sounds true to their origins yet firmly pointed in a new artistic direction”.

The ensemble has worked with such heavyweights – be it in the studio or on stage – including Pharoah Sanders, Dizzy Gillespie, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder and Archie Shepp. Their compositions often build on simple themes that gain complexity through repetition and improvisation.

As El’Zabar describes it himself : “My concept was based in logic as it pertains to the history of Great Black Music. In other words, the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble has a strong rhythmic foundation, innovative harmonics and counterpoint, well-balanced interplay and polyphony among the players for highly developed ensemble dynamics. We are strong individual soloists with an in-depth grasp of music history, originality, fearlessness and deep spirituality.”

In “Pharoah”, taken from the upcoming album, El’Zabar’s vocals create a trance-like fervour, resonating with the rhythmic leitmotiv, while Corey Wilkes’s trumpet, Alex Harding’s baritone sax and the fierc Ian Maksin’s cello take us in a thrilling journey.

This year, Be Known, a documentary about the ensemble’s leader directed by Dwayne Johnson-Cochran will also be released.

Be Known: Ancient/Future/Music, out on May 10th on Spiritmuse Records. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.

Read Next: KOKOROKO, the many moods of afro-jazz